If you’re reading this, chances are you could get in better shape. Don’t take it personally, the CDC estimates that more than 70% of Americans are overweight.
In fact, your dog is probably not exactly in peak physical condition either, as 54% of domestic canines fall into the overweight or obese category.
So, it’s time for both of you to get off the couch and start moving!
Health Benefits of Exercising With Your Dog
As a pet parent, you must be aware that dogs are fantastic friends and get extremely happy to participate in whatever their parents are doing, whether it be enjoying a long drive or relaxing on the couch on a leisurely holiday evening.
One of the activities that your dog will like to do with you is regular exercise with you. Since dogs love to spend time outside, it will also motivate you to go out and enjoy some physical activities.
You and your dog can benefit from this, whether it entails going for a fast stroll through your neighborhood or jogging across a park track. Yet, to be on the safe side, you must see your doctor and visit the vet with your pet before beginning your regular workout routine.
Your physician can ensure that neither of you has any underlying medical conditions that would prohibit you from practicing and may also give workout recommendations that suit you and your dog.
The health benefits you can obtain are given below.
Exercising With Dogs Can Reduce Anxiety Levels
Activity and reduction in the anxiety level accompany each other. For example, according to recent research, cortisol, the “stress hormone,” can be decreased by taking your dog on a stroll, whereas oxytocin, or the “feel-good hormone,” can be increased.
It Can Control Hypertension
Dogs can exert a “stabilizing influence” on their guardians in addition to helping to decrease serious ailments when you spend a significant amount of time alongside your furry buddies. You may obtain that advantage by caressing a dog sometimes.
To cite an example, research indicates that, on the whole, dog lovers experience reduced blood pressure compared to other people who do not have pets with them.
Exercise Can Uphold Your Mood
You must know that dogs are non-judgemental furry animals who love you unconditionally. They can provide you with love and affection and are attentive and persistent partners.
Regardless of how terrible your whole day was, they will always be at home and interested in spending quality time with you. They are the best temperament enhancers, frequently decreasing stress, melancholy, or solitude.
According to experts, studies have proven that people who own dogs or cats feel more energetic on returning home after a hectic day.
Additionally, they add regular dining, entertaining, and training pets, or engaging them in exercises can give you a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Making You Feel At Peace
Especially during the most challenging situations, dogs and cats can often console us like no other can. This is why companion animals may benefit individuals who have suffered emotional damage. Just engage with your dog for regular exercise; they are there to hear, provide you with a pet, and take your mind off your problems or trauma.
How Dogs Benefit From Fitness & Exercise?
Every dog needs regular physical activity, regardless of physique, variety, or seniority.
Scores of studies prove that a well-exercised dog is more well-behaved, peaceful, and compassionate, as has been demonstrated throughout time. Physical activity will help you as well, not just dogs.
Getting your dog to the vet to determine the current body weight and an optimum weight target must be your first approach.
Then, with the help of this knowledge, you’ll be able to modify your dog’s routine in the right way, if that means increasing the amount of time you spend walking it or changing the nature of treats it gets.
Regular exercise can benefit your dog in certain ways, like:
It Can Save Your Dog From Obesity
Among the most prevalent ailments that affect canines is obesity. You can adapt your dog’s diet appropriately, alter the types of treats they receive or extend their exercise by a couple of minutes following their weight guidelines.
Better Mental Health
Regular physical activity could be doing miracles for your dog’s emotional stability. Firstly, because they will regularly interact with other dogs, it can lessen their nervousness.
Dogs also release endorphins that are thought to be essential naturally released opioid neurotransmitters in the body that help reduce discomfort. Just like humans, exercise gives them a feeling of euphoria and delights them.
Lastly, a calmer dog is much less likely to demonstrate negative habits, including scratching on your belongings and whimpering.
While maintaining the proper body weight can assist keep your dog fit, regular activity will make your dog’s limbs feel less painful. In addition, your dog’s joints would be maintained, and it will experience particularly less difficulty if it receives frequent, age-appropriate activity.
The 9 Best Ways to Exercise with Your Dog
There are so many different ways to exercise with your dog, so most dog owners should be able to find an appealing sport or activity to try with their canine.
You’ll need to invest in some equipment for a few popular activities, but others require nothing but space.
These activities also provide you with plenty of intensity options. Some will provide a high-intensity workout for your dog while letting you cruise along without breaking a sweat, while others will quicken your pulse and cause you to break a sweat, as you try to keep up with your pup.
Assuming you are both healthy enough to do so (more on that later), it is probably a good idea to try out a few different activities, to build some variety into your routine, which will help keep things fresh and interesting.
1. Walking or Hiking
Walking is probably already a part of your daily routine if you live in an urban area and don’t have a backyard for your dog’s bathroom needs.
But walking to the corner and back three times a day won’t burn many calories. Instead, you’ll want to walk for some distance with your dog.
Although you should start with a short distance (perhaps one-quarter mile or around the block), you should eventually work your way up to a few miles a day.
If you want to incorporate some incredible scenery and fresh air into your walks, consider going hiking instead of walking around the neighborhood.
Even the densest urban areas are typically within a short drive from some type of park, and your dog will thoroughly love all of the interesting smells he encounters on the hike.
2. Running or Jogging
The natural extension to walking and hiking, running allows you to cover more distance and burn more calories in a relatively brief time.
Many long-term runners claim that running helps to boost their mood (the so-called “runner’s high”), and it isn’t a stretch to think that dogs can enjoy something similar – most dogs appear to have a great time while exercising.
However, running and jogging are both hard on your joints, so they aren’t ideal activities for all people and pooches.
But several breeds – including Dalmatians, Siberian huskies, and Rhodesian ridgebacks, among others – are natural-born running dogs, who will love racking up the miles with you.
No matter how fast you are, your dog can probably leave you in the dust if he is so inclined. But, you can reclaim your species superiority by jumping on your bike and having your dog run alongside you.
You’ll not only be able to reach higher speeds on the back of a bike, but you’ll also be able to cover longer distances without exhausting yourself in the process.
This being the case, bicycling is a great option for out-of-shape owners who have athletic dogs, but it isn’t an ideal activity for experienced cyclists who own couch-potato pups.
It requires a bit of coordination to ride a bike while attached to a dog, and you’ll have to slowly introduce your dog to the process to ensure the safety of all parties.
4. Agility Trials
Agility trials or games require dogs to perform a number of different body movements and tasks as they complete an obstacle-filled course.
Dogs are typically encouraged to complete the course as quickly as possible, and because you’ll need to run alongside him while he does, you’ll burn some calories and elevate your heart rate too.
Many dogs love learning to negotiate the various obstacles involved in agility trials, and the training process is both entertaining and stimulating for canines and owners alike.
Additionally, training for agility trials will help reinforce basic obedience training and ensure that your dog remains well behaved.
Most vets, doctors, dogs, and owners will agree that swimming is one of the very best ways to get some exercise. Swimming is fun for people and most dogs love jumping in and paddling around.
But the benefits of swimming aren’t limited to fun and games – it is also a great way to burn a ton of calories without enduring very much impact in the process.
You don’t need much to start swimming with your dog (although a dog life vest is always a good idea); in fact, the most difficult thing to come by is often a good place you can both swim.
Just be sure to read your dog’s body language closely, and immediately return to dry ground if he starts getting tired.
Canicross is a hybrid activity, that combines aspects of running and hiking. But while it is similar to these sports, it provides a unique combination of benefits.
Unlike running in urban areas, Canicross gives you the chance to enjoy better scenery; and unlike hiking, Canicross allows you to get your heart rate higher and burn more calories in a short amount of time.
To take up the sport, you’ll need a nice, long trail, a healthy and willing dog and a leash to connect the two of you together. It also requires a bit of training, as you’ll usually need to control your dog via specific voice training commands.
Canicross appears to be most popular in the UK, but there are a few Canicross clubs in the US, which can help you learn the basics of the sport.
Tracking work entails teaching your dog to seek out a predetermined item with his nose in the way a police K9 dogs or search-and-rescue may attempt to do so.
It won’t provide you with a vigorous workout, but you will have to walk alongside your dog, so it will help you burn a few calories.
You can begin tracking work in your home or backyard, but you’ll eventually want to work up to large, outdoor spaces.
If you need help teaching your dog to track or finding organized tracking activities, look for a local tracking club, who can help you learn the ropes.
Many dogs love to run alongside you as you kick a soccer ball, and some will even chase after it if kicked in their direction.
Some dogs can be taught to nose the ball back toward you, but others will simply attack the ball like prey, and force you to run over and kick it back into play.
But this doesn’t really matter – it’s a great way to get some exercise with your dog, and it will provide a little excitement for your canine too.
If possible, purchase a mouth-sized soccer ball, so your dog can carry it back to you after chasing it down. It is also a good idea to select a very soft, flexible ball, so you don’t hurt your dog’s nose or face when passing him the ball.
Skijoring is somewhat similar to Canicross, except that instead of running alongside or behind your dog, you travel on cross-country skis instead.
This obviously isn’t an activity everyone can enjoy, as you’ll need plenty of snow-covered ground to participate, but it provides a great workout and is a fun way to spend time with your dog.
It is important to remember that your dog’s feet can suffer from frostbite if forced to run through the snow unprotected, so be sure to invest in a good set of dog boots to protect his feet.
Walking quickly is the best workout for both humans and dogs. A healthier heart, reduced risk of stroke, more stamina, stronger bones, and a decreased chance of anxiety are the advantages of regular strolling. It also works on dogs’ typical behavioral issues.
How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?
As a dog owner, you might have wondered about how much your dog needs to spend on exercise in a day. It completely depends on the dog’s age, physical condition, and breed, just like humans.
All you can do as a pet parent is to ensure that your loving companion gets the proper amount of exercise per its requirement.
Proper exercise keeps your dog physically active and happy. First, however, you must contemplate your working hours and other commitments to form an appropriate program for exercise.
You may have observed how your pup frequently has “zoomies.” Quickly pacing about the home before crashing into something like a puppy heap, ideally in your arms, are telltale signs of the zoomies.
Puppies typically need more activity in small intervals, like the zoomies, unlike older dogs because they possess tremendous enthusiasm. In addition, due to their rapid growth, it is preferable to spread out your dog’s playtime and outings during the day instead of taking them once per big stroll somewhere at the beginning of the week.
In conclusion, each pup is unique, and the longer you stay with your dog, the further you’ll discover how often it requires movement to live a happy life.
For Adult Dogs
The amount of bodily movement your dog requires is significantly influenced by its type. For example, moderate species like the Bulldog or Basset Hound only need as much activity as slightly elevated species like Border Collies and Belgian Malinois.
It’s crucial to consider a breed of dog activity before selecting a pup. Owning a physically active puppy is only advisable if your working schedule is tight enough and you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
The well-being of your dog is equally crucial. Consult your veterinarian about the best fitness program for your adult dog if it suffers from a health problem like hip problems, cardiovascular problems, or breathing difficulties.
For Old Dogs
As the dogs grow old, they lose their ability to walk too fast and a reasonable distance. Therefore, you need to indulge them in other activities daily.
Discuss exercise options with your vet while keeping an eye on your elderly pet’s behavior. You seem to be the perfect candidate to determine the amount of activity your dog might tolerate, as you are the one who knows them best — the parent.
Most dogs benefit from social contact and physical activity that training offers, which can also lengthen their lifespan and lower their likelihood of becoming obese.
Exercise with Your Dog Safely
You and your pup didn’t become overweight overnight, so don’t expect your waistline to shrink after a single workout. It is going to take time to work your bodies back into shape.
Accordingly, you’ll want to take it easy at the outset, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts or the distance you cover.
Overworking yourself or your dog will only lead to exhaustion, aching muscles and potential injuries, which will set you back farther than if you had just skipped that last lap at the pool.
In fact, you should make an appointment with your doctor and your dog’s vet before getting started. This way, you can find out if you are both healthy enough to initiate an exercise regimen and if either of you has any limitations.
Your doctor may, for example, recommend that you don’t engage in high-impact sports, or your vet may caution you to avoid swimming with your dog (some breeds are poorly suited for swimming).
Have you managed to keep you and your canine companion fit and healthy? What’s your secret? What types of exercise do you enjoy doing with your pup? Tell us all about your routine in the comments below.
The most common exercise for dogs is going out for a daily stroll. So you can take them along with you when cycling, swimming, or even skating. For some breeds, a good amount of just strolling is enough. However, some other breeds need even more exercise to perform.
Walking is the simplest form of exercise for dogs. But apart from walking, dogs also love swimming as they enjoy being in the water. You can also engage them in exercise by playing with balls, asking them to fetch, or taking them along with you when cycling. Indulging in sports that are meant for dogs is also a good option.
Yes, exercising with your dog is one of the best activities you can engage in. It will keep both of you healthy and develop a deep emotional bond and trust between you two. According to recent studies, exercising with your dog can make you quickly lose those extra kilos if you are trying to lose weight.
Moreover, while performing the daily exercises, every dog likes to have someone who will provide it with some company.
Yes, it is necessary to take dogs for a daily walk. A wonderful method to keep your dog in good physical condition is to take daily walks.
Daily walks help keep their body weight under control, which in turn, helps lower your dog’s probability of acquiring a variety of diseases like hyperglycemia, high blood pressure, and liver problems.
Generally, a dog with good health can easily cope with 20 to 30 minutes of strolling in a day for a regular schedule. But they can even walk for 2 hours straight if they have a great physique and agility.
Yes, according to dog parents and vets, regular exercise for an hour is enough for dogs. However, the amount of time a dog needs to exercise depends on biological age, physique, and general abilities.
However, some breeds need to perform more. The aging dogs or young puppies also mostly remain unable to perform the exercise for an hour at once.
Yes, even simple walking is enough for a dog. However, strolling a dog is a low-intensity workout that, apart from the dog, can help the owner in reaching their fitness objectives.
By taking their dogs for a couple of weekly walks, dog owners gain greatly regarding their well-being and social life. Strolling routinely increases heart health, decreases hypertension, strengthens bones and joints, and reduces stress.
Yes, tug-of-war burns lots of calories than many other workouts. Dogs can easily burn a good amount of weight just by performing tug of war two times for minutes a day, and an hour of tug of war will help to burn 500 calories, as per experts.
But please remember that exercises like tug of war are mostly meant for strong varieties of dogs.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.